Sir Michael, a teacher for 43 years, will tour Ipswich schools and take part in a question and answer session with Ipswich teachers. He was invited by Ben Gummer MP after schools in Suffolk slumped to amongst the worst in the country, and faces questions about the new, tougher, Ofsted regime, which recently saw Sidegate Primary School branded inadequate.
Sidegate Primary School Governor, Labour councillor Alasdair Ross, took to his blog to attack Ofsted, saying he was disturbed to see the inspectors were employed by Serco and that, given the amount of time they spent observing classes, they might as well have written their report in London.
Cllr Ross, and his Rushmere colleague Cllr Judy Terry, must be smarting after Ofsted branded leadership at the school as requiring improvement, saying that “In the past the governing body has been slow to respond to the poor achievement of pupils. However, governors now have better systems in place and more knowledge about how well the school is performing.”
Last year Alasdair Ross was highly critical of Suffolk County Council’s Tory leadership when the counties primary schools fell to joint third from bottom in the whole country. At the time he refused to accept that the Governors, Headteachers and teachers of the individual schools had to shoulder part of the blame, insisting that it was down to the introduction of free schools and the way Suffolk County Council was being run.
Indeed only this week his party colleague, David Ellesmere, said SCC had taken it’s eye off the ball, saying that perhaps the news that the number of Ipswich schools that were good or outstanding had dropped significantly was “another bit of evidence that the county council needs to up its game.”
Cllr Ross said, in a blog post last weekend, “It would easy to just become defensive and blame the inspection system but even if the system is flawed (and it is) we are stuck with it. When you find out that the Ofsted inspection team are run by SERCO, it does not give you a warm glowing feeling.”
Unfortunately he then goes on to become defensive and blame the inspection system: “Lessons were just briefly looked at and judgements made after a very short time in the classroom. In the end the school being declared ‘inadequate’ is down to past results. So Ofsted could save money, the school would not have to waste a day being inspected and Ofsted could just write their report in London on looking at past results.
“I have total faith in the leadership team at the school to improve the results, and even Ofsted declared that there have been recent improvements.”
Maybe both Cllr Ross and Cllr Ellesmere would do well to listen to Graham White, the secretary of Suffolk NUT, who told the Star this week that the drop in the number of outstanding and good schools could be explained by the change in the Ofsted Framework.
Mr White said: “I’m not surprised (by the figures). There is now much more focus on exceptional progress. It is making it harder for those schools who have a slightly more difficult intake.”
It is worrying that Cllr Ross has total faith in the leadership team at the school, considering Ofsted say they require improvement. He also says the report says that the majority of lessons were of a good standard or above, yet Ofsted felt that the quality of teaching was inadequate.
Of course it may be that, for reasons of morale, Cllr Ross is saying one thing to the public and something else within the school. Certainly one would hope that he isn’t quite as complacent as he appears.
Mr Gummer maintains that school Governors must be held accountable for poor results in education. If the school is inadequate, it must be poorly led. If the leadership requires improvement, it must be held accountable.
Filed under: Education, Government, Policy, Suffolk County Council Tagged: | Alasdair Ross, Ben Gummer MP, David Ellesmere, Graham White, Judy Terry, Ofsted, SERCO, Sidegate Primary School, Sir Michael Wilshaw